Missteps And Wipeouts

“Employees are not there to make the manager’s job easier.  It is the other way around.”  -Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant Humanize

We live in a world that has enabled our leaders to develop an upside-down understanding of their work, creating a fallacy, one of believing that the organization and those within are there to serve them and their needs.  Unfortunately, this leader-centric view insulates them from the true work of leadership, serving those they lead.

When this leader-centric view unfolds in an organization, it tends to break down the processes that sustain the system.  It starts in the periphery and works its way inward.  A slow crawl to dysfunction, as all roads lead inward, rather than outward.  Shriveling the organization towards the core, until eventually the whole is no longer functional and flourishing.  As the system focuses itself on feeding the core.

It is under this leader-centric model that not only do open flows of communication tend to erode across the organization, trust and transparency are allowed to disintegrate and evaporate as well…

“Trust is a much more fundamental part of organizations than we tend to admit.”  -Notter and Grant

The more leader-centric the organization turns, the more scarce information becomes, and eventually, the informational pipeline shuts itself down turning the organizational landscape into dried and withered desert of communication.  Leaving any remnants of trust and transparency to slowly fade away and turn to dust.

When information and communication fail to exist, when trust and transparency have broken down, our organization, as well as the system and its inner workings begin to feel more like a giant obstacle course than an open, collaborative, fluid community.  Going to work begins to feel like being a daily contestant on an episode of the show Wipeout.

“When there is trust, a significant number of potential bad outcomes are basically taken off the table, and that simplifies how we work through our environment.”  -Notter and Grant

And unfortunately, when trust does not exist, we get the opposite effect.

Our environment and our work becomes more complex, and more mentally taxing.  We spend more time worrying about the hidden landmines, snares, hazards, and booby traps that lay hidden as we traverse the organizational landscape during our daily work.

“When you trust someone, you don’t have to spend time figuring out how to protect yourself against the potential opportunities the other person has to take advantage of you.”  -Notter and Grant

When communication, trust and transparency dissipate, our organizations take on the feel of that show, Wipeout (which has been billed the “world’s largest obstacle course”).  We spend more time each day avoiding the traps, snares, landmines, and booby traps that stand to blindside us and knock us off course, than we do engaged in meaningful work that adds value to the organization and all within.

The unfortunate thing, especially when communication, trust and transparency are lacking, many within the organization know where those landmines and snares are located, yet instead of helping their fellow colleagues, they often wait and watch to see if the person tackling the course can successfully avoid those very obstacles.

“A necessary component of trust is transparency.  Whether it is an individual or an organization, when too much is kept behind a curtain of secrecy, then trust becomes difficult.  Unable to see intentions or actions clearly, we naturally become suspicious of motives…”  -Notter and Grant

Unfortunately, not only does this not endure trust…it lacks transparency.  And for that reason, people begin to be wary of what is waiting for them on the next step of the course, they slow down, become overly cautious.  Productivity and speed screech to a  halt as the focus turns towards trying to figure out where the next hit is coming from.  They become wary of being blindsided…

“That is the essence of transparency: sharing information.  Organizations that want to create a culture of transparency must figure out how to do the work of sharing information more effectively.”  -Notter and Grant

Or, instead of being wary the opposite happens, people through caution to the wind and run blindly through the course hitting all of the obstacles along the way.  The goal then  becomes survival, just getting through.  They lose focus on completing the course effectively, they are just trying to finish anyway possible.

Either way, we are doing our leadership, those we serve, and our organizations a disservice when we turn our organizational landscapes into booby-trip ridden obstacles courses.  When we turn those we lead into daily contestants on another episode of organizational Wipeout.

When leadership is self-serving and the organization becomes leader-centric, everything tends to fold inward.  Limiting the organization and all within, diminishing the whole for the center.

The goal of leadership needs to reverse that flow, to push outward.  Allowing the center to nourish the whole, to serve and feed the body through constant communication and transparency that not only creates bonds of trust but, eliminates our organizational obstacle courses.


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